The National Orientation Agency (NOA), Delta State Directorate, in conjunction with the Foundation for Development and Community Engagement (FDCE), has concluded plans for a roundtable among stakeholders to deliberate on the best strategy to tackle drug scourge among youths in Warri and other parts of the state.
Director of the agency, Ivan Okoro, at a chat with journalists in Asaba, said the move was in pursuant of the statutory mandate handed the agency to stem drug abuse in the country.
Okoro, who quoted Section 13 (1) of the National Orientation Agency Act (Amendment) Bill, 2016, stated that the core aim of the agency includes to cooperate with the federal, state and local governments in the eradication of anti-social behaviours of youth such as street trading (hawking), urinating along streets across the nation, cultism, prostitution, examinations malpractices and drug abuse.
He said the agency had, therefore, collaborated with FDCE to initiate a social research on the proliferation of the use of hard drugs and related substances in Warri and environs as a pilot which study had revealed very disturbing details.
The details, he noted, included a plethora of hard drugs centres located within and outside residential areas across the area and increasing cases of female victims of drug-induced s3xual abuses like rape and bestiality.
Okoro averred that no responsible government or private actor, armed with the details of the study, could afford to be nonchalant, adding that no meaningful solution could be developed, driven and sustained without a solid public/private partnership like the proposed roundtable.
He disclosed that the study was technically driven by the FDCE – which was engaged by the NOA for that purpose.
Meanwhile, the Director of Research and Advocacy of FDCE, Mrs Tsaye Mene, who is a pharmacologist, expressed regret that not much was being done with regard to the proliferation of the use of hard drugs and related substances.
According to her, the study was conducted with internationally approached social research tools.
The research, she said, revealed that among other ills, the use of hard drugs and related substances had destroyed the grades of students and resulted in poor performances and school drop outs, exposed many young girls to rape and other s3xual crimes.
These, she added, were negatively impacting on their future, with many lured into crime, early deaths and had constrained many wealthy people to sell off their valuables at incredibly low prices and become suddenly poor to satisfy their appetite.
The drug scourge, Mrs Mene reiterated, had led to violent crimes at home and outside the home resulting in fatalities, radically reducing the productivity of work force and increasing the number of mentally deranged people in the society.
Mrs Mene, however, regretted that the trade in the substances had created illegal business for some law enforcement agents and civilians dealing in the substances which had portended some difficulty in tackling the issue, adding that with the requisite political will, government would arrest the situation.
The choice of Warri and environs to kick start the campaign, according to Mrs Mene, was due to the metropolitan nature of the area which provided a conducive lure for trends.
She disclosed that the commonest hard drugs that would feature in the roundtable include: Tramadol, Codeine and what is popularly called Monkey tail (mixture of local gin and Indian hemp powder).
Leading the pack of dignitaries to the roundtable in Warri are governor and immediate past governor of Delta State, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa and Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan respectively and House of Representatives member, Honourable Daniel Reyenieju, among others.
Local and multinational organisations expected at the event include: Chevron Nigeria Ltd (CNL), USAID, United States Embassy, Rotary Club, and religious organisations, among others.
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